Teach Yourself Bodylanguage
Why teach yourself bodylanguage?
If you're delivering a speech controlled bodylanguage or gesture can help you deliver your message effectively.
Ask yourself -
Are you aware of your unconscious or habitual bodylanguage?
Do you know the effect these gestures might be having on your audience?
You may be undermining or lessening the impact of your speech with unnecessary distracting movement.
When you teach yourself bodylanguage you gain more control over how your presentation is received.
Do I really need to learn this?
Maybe or maybe not.
Try a quick test to help you decide whether or not you need bodylanguage awareness.
Think of someone you know very well who is unaccustomed to public speaking.
Imagine they are in front of you now.
What gestures or body stances do they habitually use? Do they rattle coins in their pockets? Or do they stroke their chin while thinking? Perhaps they shift from one foot to the other or fold their arms across their chests?
Now imagine that person standing in front of an audience giving a speech. If you didn't know them how would you interpret their bodylanguage?
- Would you think they were nervous?
- Would you be put-off by all their fiddling?
- Would you question their ability?
- Would you think if they're going to continue to talk in public they need a teach yourself bodylanguage course to help make them more aware of themselves?
think of YOURSELF. What do YOU DO?As An Example Here's An Experience of My Own:
A group of my students asked if they could video a class. We were rehearsing a play and I agreed knowing it would provide valuable feedback on the process. It turned out it was feedback for everybody, myself included.
I winced as I saw myself over gesturing...hands flying like whirlygigs but that wasn't all. I saw face pulling as I thought something through, slumped stance...The list went on.
The only let out I gave myself was this wasn't a formal presentation but it surely taught me a lot about myself in that setting. The irony was I thought I had most of those habitual gestures under control! Not so. My own bodylanguage was detracting from my purpose: clear communication. It was me who needed a refresher course on teach yourself bodylanguage!
So back to YOU. What would you see yourself doing if the camera was on you?
The brutal truth
is we make a snap-judgement
particularly if the person in front of us is a stranger.
We give people approximately TEN seconds or less
to prove themselves interesting to us. Any habitual gestures that don't enhance communication serve as a block. They turn us off.Successful speakers ooze confidence.
They have successfully conquered any distracting habitual gestures they may have had. When they speak in public their bodylanguage effectively supports and reinforces their speech. It says LOOK AT ME
Before you begin practicing any of the Teach Yourself Bodylanguage Tips
below read through the suggestions
for making them work easily and effectively for you.Teach Yourself Bodylanguage Suggestions:
- Work in front of a full length dress mirror
- If you can video yourself do so. Playing it back will give your important feedback.
- Go for mastery over one habit you want to modify or get rid of at a time rather than trying to banish the lot at once.
- Remember regular smaller practices are more effective than one or two intense longer workouts.
- Practice what you can throughout the day. You do not need to wait until you are at home to practice standing well, or relaxing your shoulders. Do it the lunch queue, in the supermarket. You can teach yourself bodylanguage anywhere.
Teach Yourself Bodylanguage Tips
Teach Yourself Bodylanguage: Stance
Teach Yourself Bodylanguage: Gesture
- Practice standing on two feet!
It might seem basic but often people stand on one foot with the other tucked in behind the uprightleg and then they swop over and the other foot has a turn. Soon it's the first foot's turn again and so on...
The interpretation of wobbling on their feet is not: 'here is someone in control'. It's the opposite.
- Practice standing 'at ease'.
Place your feet about a comfortable shoulder width apart. Make sure you are standing on the whole of your foot so your feet are fully connected to the floor. This position supports all of your body while distributing your weight evenly through your hips and legs without undue stress.
The bodylanguage of someone standing comfortably like this says: confidence, capable, control and balanced.
- Practice standing tall.
Pull yourself up to full height. Imagine a string running through you from the crown of your head to your feet. Now imagine that string being gently pulled toward the sky. Your back will straighten. Your neck will hold your head high.
Notice the feel and look of standing straight. When you see other people standing similarly, you recognise them as being someone who feels good about themselves. They appear to have energy, presence and power.
- Let your shoulders relax.
Practice by rolling them backwards and forwards. Pretend they are a coat hanger from which your chest and arms hang. In order for them to hang well your shoulders need to straight and relaxed.
Raised shoulders can signal heightened tension, defensiveness as if you are waiting to fend off negativity or anxiety.
Shoulders habitually slumped forward say 'depressed', 'defeated' or 'closed'.
- Practice breathing deeply and evenly using your diaphragm while maintaining a fully upright relaxed stance.
Notice how open your chest is.
Notice how your hips carry the weight of your upper body.
Notice how your shoulders carry your arms but most of all NOTICE how connected, strong and balanced you are.
The key to gesture is to keep it clear and appropriate.
Many of us, (myself included) use a flurry of gestures. We wave our arms, point, clasp and unclasp our hands, fiddle with what ever we are holding, scratch our chins...The variations are infinite.
Often what we are doing bears no real relationship to the subject matter of our speech. They become a distraction.Here's Another Illustration
It clearly shows why there is a need to teach yourself bodylanguage.
When I was student in highschool we had assemblies every morning. The highlight was not the notices or the inspiring speeches made by teachers imploring us to wear our school uniforms correctly.
(Hat on at all times in public. No self respecting girl would ever be seen without one. Oh, the shame!).
Instead it was how many times would our esteemed headmaster roll his tie.
The lecturn he used was supported by two pieces of wood fixed into a base. He would put his notes on the stand, balance his glasses on the end of his nose and begin. At the same time his hands as if magnetised fixed themselves on the end of his tie. While he talked his fingers rolled the tie of the day up, and then down. Each journey was clearly visible through the wooden uprights.
- Practice speaking either clasping your hands loosely in front of you or with your arms at your side. (Some people clasp their hands behind their back. Experiment with this too. However there is a tendency to lean forward which means you are not standing upright.)
- Practice gesture specifically related to your content. That is, if you are describing something huge, you could indicate size with your arms open wide. Or maybe you want to point to something on a chart. Use one clear, large gesture.
(Large gestures are ones involving the whole body.
For example: the arm moves out from the chest and is fully extended.
Small gestures are those held more closely to the body. Because they are small they can be missed by your audience or misinterpreted.)
If you are confident you could even incorporate a little 'acting' into your presentation. This could be to take on a voice, a gesture to show your audience but only if it is appropriate to your content. Again it needs to be bold and clear so the audience can read it how you intended. Once the acting is done, you move straight back into your ordinary presentation style.Teach Youself Bodylanguage: Eyes:The eyes always have it!
Think of all the expressions we habitually use referring to eyes, and you'll realise how important they are in communication.
We ask if someone 'sees'
We like getting a good 'eye-full'.
The 'eyes are the windows to the soul'
them is believing!
the person talking to us to look at us.
We don't like it if they turn their heads away, if their eyes flicker from one side of us to the other, or look down. We want to be looked straight in the eye. It is only then, that we feel met and communicated with clearly. Understanding the role of eye contact is critical to teach yourself bodylanguage.Interpretations of LACK of Eye Contact are:
- lack of self esteem
- extreme anxiety
Although in some cultures NOT looking directly
at the person you are talking to represents respect,
Western society does not share this view.
Here's Another Example from Experience:
- Practice looking at your audience.
Choose a person and meet their eyes briefly but long enough to know you have made contact. Choose another and do the same.
Talking directly to one person as in maintaining the eye contact for too long is considered rude but shifting your focus through the members of your audience IS good. It makes them feel met.
(If this is too daunting to start with, have a friend or two sit where you can see them.
Another useful tip is to select a spot just above the heads of the audience at the far end of the place you are talking in. When you talk to it, it will appear as if you are talking to everybody, including those way at the back.)
- Practice Looking FROM your Notes to your Audience.
If you are reading, the temptation is to do just that. You stay head down for the whole of your talk. This is BORING for your audience. And rude. You have people there who made an effort to be present. Ignoring them because you are reading will make them feel cut out or alienated.
I had a highly regarded lecturer who desperately needed a teach yourself bodylanguage session. His academic work was brilliant but his lecturing was dull.
He would arrive with numerous bits of paper and read without looking at anybody. Neither did the pace or pitch of his voice alter from beginning to end. After several weeks only the most committed students
remained in his classes. Tip:
Double space and number your notes. Use a clear font and mark the major points with a highlighter. This will lessen the possibility of losing your place when look up to meet your audience.Teach Yourself Bodylanguage: Smiling:
The song sings 'When you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you.'
It's true. A smile says 'I like being here. I like you.'
As a speaker your smile
communicates ease and confidence
. It breaks the ice and lightens the mood.Practice smiling at the people you're talking to.
You don't have to do it endlessly until your face hurts! (And if you do, your audience will assume there's something amiss with you!) But if you can manage one, two, three or more in appropriate places
particularly coupled with eye contact
, you'll be seen as a warm approachable person.Teach yourself Bodylanguage: Face:
Many of us pull faces. We may not be poking out our tongues or rolling our eyes but we're grimacing, biting our bottom lip and scrunching up our foreheads completely unaware of the effect it has on the people looking at us.We read faces constantly.
We are looking for non-verbal cues to tell us who this person is. We want the sub-text. We want to know what is going on below the words but more than that we want to know if the words we are hearing match what we're seeing on the 'face'.What Story is Your Face Telling?
Practice consciously relaxing your face.
- Raised eyebrows may be saying: 'I don't believe that.' 'I doubt or I question what ever you are saying.'
- A scrunched forehead may say: 'I'm thinking hard' or 'I'm angry and stressed.'
- A wrinkled up nose signals distaste. 'I don't like whatever you've just told me or I've just seen.'
- Biting at your lips can be seen as anxiety or intense concentration
- Tight lips can be seen as unwilling to share information or deliberate with-holding
- A rigid jaw is often interpreted as trying to keep things under control particularly anger
Let the tightness in your forehead, cheeks, jaw, lips, and throat go. You'll be amazed how much better your face feels.
To get rid of tension in your jaw, lips and throat open your mouth as widely as you can and yawn.
Wriggle your jaw from side to side.
Massage gently with your finger tips the place where your jaw hinges next to your ears.
To lessen tension in your forehead massage your temples gently and the place between your eyebrows.Tip: Focus on telling the story
of your presntation rather
than yourself. This shifts the energy from 'me'
You'll find it does make a difference. More Teach Yourself Bodylanguage tipsTeach Yourself Bodylanguage: Open
The person who stands on both feet, head held high, chest exposed, and arms by side. We read these people as being open to experience
the world.Teach Yourself Bodylanguage: Closed
The person who hangs his head, folds his arms across his chest, crosses his legs and rolls his shoulders forward. These people have closed themselves off from experience.
Their body's say 'keep out'.Leaning forward
toward someone is interpreted as I want to hear what you've got say. I'm interested.
The expression 'had them sitting on the edge of their chairs'
comes from an audience being so eager to hear what the speaker was saying they shifted as close as possible to them.Leaning away
from someone can be 'I'm not sure. I'm taking some time out to think about it.'Study excellence.
A very effective way to teach yourself bodylanguage is to make a point of really noticing how successful speakers use their body's. Get videos and instead of listening to the speech focus on their bodylanguage. Turn the sound off!
When you turn it back on again, notice how speech and movement combine
to create the whole impression.Read more.
These Teach Yourself Bodylanguage
notes are merely a beginning guide. They were intended to spark your interest and make you a little more aware of yourself.
Bodylanguage is a huge and fascinating field of study. You can find out more about it and its specialist applications through refining your net search technique:
For Example:bodylanguage + psychology
or bodylanguage + selling
or by asking at the help desk of your local library.
Do you have any Teach Yourself Bodylanguage resources to recommend?
I'd be happy to receive suggestions. The fuller this Teach Yourself Bodylanguage page is the better.
Send them through the form here.
Return to the Top of the Page
Harness humor power. Learn how to use humor effectively in your speeches.
Return from Teach Yourself Bodylanguage to Essential Tips
Return to Home Page
Click for a complete Sitemap
Please click for form to send suggestions